Showing posts from May, 2012

Adieu to Tuur the Toro.

Arthur 'Tuur' Decabooter.  1936-2012. (photo from the book Groene Leeuw, De Wielerploeg die de Keizer uitdaagde, de Eecloonaar, 2008) Sadly, another cycling great was lost a few days ago. His is not a name many know this side of the Atlantic.   But hey, global name recognition doesn't equate to 'greatness'.   For this was a man with the strength of a bull, the heart of a true lion of Flanders, and the resume to back it up. Sadly, he was 75 years young.  Out last Saturday on his bike, riding lang de vaart. . alongside the canal.   A nice, flat ride.   Somebody up there must have looked down, and decided it was time to call home the ' Toro '.   His ticker gave out, for he'd had a history of heart problems.   There was nothing the rescue squad could do.  And sadly, this giant of Flanders was no more. Arthur "Tuur" Decabooter.   His name is etched into history of the Ronde VanVlaanderen by winning it in 1960.  Awhile ago, I know.  Heck,

It takes a flandrien...

“Thomas De Gendt was the only one who dared. The others were mainly afraid: afraid of each other, afraid of the mountains”                                                                                                                                           - Eddy Merckx Yup that's right, it takes a  Flandrien .  To produce the attack the tifosi were longing for. Un uomo solo, al commando.  Il suo bici e celeste...  Il suo nome... Thomas DeGendt! Saturday Thomas DeGendt produced a ' numero ' that, for a dramatic half hour or so as the gap climbed, looked like it might just put him in the Maglia Rosa.  Just like Coppi, the first time the Stelvio hosted the Giro in 1953. Now THAT wielersupporters, was an old school barrage .   Somewhere in the heavens, I'm sure Coppi was looking down in approval.  Another rider on a celeste Bianchi, soloing up through the snowbank walls to reach the top of the Stelvio, solo al commando .  So what if the favorites pulled back

He's the most interesting man in the world...of cycling

Gem on the Ventoux, with Charly Gaul in 1955. They'd duel there again 3 years later for the Tour. Road cycling's 'greatest generation' only has a few old-soldiers still standing.  One is the Swiss legend Ferdi Kubler, winner of the 1950 Tour and 1951 world champion.  Another is a larger-than-life guy, the last living bridge to the good old days of cycling.   He's now a retired gentleman who cites his love of nature as his secret for longevity, and yoga as his secret weapon for his climbing power on the bike. Imagine for a minute sitting in Seillans in the south of France, tending your garden in your old age. The cold mistral starts blowing, so you retreat inside for a glass of wine.  In this melange of turbulence and serenity, much like your nearly 90 years, you gaze out over the pays  and reflect on your life. You were born a son of Italian immigrants who fled Italy for Clermont Ferrand, France, with next to nothing after Mussolini's facist thugs had bur

"Hey Sterling, gotcha numbah..."

Hey cafesupporters , hope you got some nice rides in this weekend.  Mine was Massachusetts' Sterling road race on Saturday. Story of my race:  In reluctant-policeman mode, leading the dance up the hill.     With the voice of Mark Wahlberg's Sergeant Dignam  from 'the Departed'  echoing in my head...   "YOU'RE.. NO.. 'BLEEPING' ...COP!!   Sterling is a deceptively tough road circuit, looping around bucolic rolling New England countryside.   Not killer selective, but with a long hill that's hard enough. It starts with a small-ring short steep wall to the finish line, flattens out a bit and is followed by about 1.7 miles of big gear false flat climbing.  That's where the pace gets drilled, stringing it out.  Repeat for six, 8-mile laps for us 'old-guy' 45+ masters, and you've got yourself a bike race jongens .  Kudos to the Minuteman Road Club for putting on a flawless race on an intelligently designed course that's about as s

Stelvio 1975: Fausto, come Coppi.

Unless you're living under a rock, you know that this year the penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia ends on the Stelvio.  Then it's on to Milan for the showdown final TT. Well, back in 1975, the grande finale of the Giro itself, the end of the final, 21st stage, was at the top of the Stelvio, the highest pass in Italy.   And unlike this year when they climb the southern side from Bormio after taking in the Mortirolo, the 1975 finale was up the more 'famous' northern approach from Bolzano - that ladder like staircase of 40 plus hairpins stacked on top of another, a wondrous engineering miracle in a part of the world where even the smallest mountain passes are masterpieces of road design that leave your mouth agape. It was the same approach Coppi scaled when he won his fifth and final Giro in 1953, dropping Hugo Koblet.   Coppi on the Stelvio, 1953 22 years later, another Fausto was leading the Giro when it hit the Stelvio.  Fausto Bertoglio.   Not exactl

Road racing is life

No photos of Quabbin, but here's one of Gem and Coppi during old school allenamento. A winter of rides like this helped me lose 17 lbs., and keep the appetite to race. Hoi cafesupporters , I'm back in the saddle, and back at the keyboard. My last two weeks were pretty tough. Losing your dad is never easy, at any age.  It naturally relegates cycling to it's proper place in life.. let's call it a 'serious life hobby.' My last day with my Da was a family Easter Sunday.  We drank a little wine, and watched Boonen win Paris-Roubaix.  My dad was a tall guy named Tom too, and he enjoyed Tommeke's solo.  I tongue-in-cheek boasted my intention to pull off a similar exploit at Battenkill.   An easy baited hook for this quiet greatest generation WWII vet, to whom the slightest ali-esque braggadocio made his hair stand up on end.   He laughed and advised me just to just stay near the front and ride smart.   We chuckled, enjoying what was now a 30 year-old father